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Uber boss to meet London transport chief

29 September 2017

But barrister Dinah Rose QC, a lawyer hired by Uber, repeatedly told a judge in London this week that Uber's model is similar to that of a minicab company. He was now head of a wildly successful company, with a clear shot at establishing near-total dominance of the world taxi market were it not for a string of legal setbacks and haemorrhaging wounds to its public image.But he might not have predicted just how hairy things would get in such a short space of time.

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At the two-day appeal hearing starting on Wednesday, Uber said its drivers were self-employed and worked the same way as those at long-established local taxi firms.

The London regulator cited the firm's approach to reporting serious criminal offences and background checks on drivers.

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The Guardian Series spoke to one Uber driver working in east London this week, who said he had initially been surprised by TfL's decision, but was also concerned about sexual assaults on service users. This would add to Uber's costs and bureaucracy across Britain.

Its 40,000 drivers can still provide rides with the San Francisco-based company until an appeals process ends, which could take months, but many are concerned for their livelihoods. Joseph makes money using his vehicle through an Uber "gig" in the evening after work, and to him, Uber is an innovation, not evil.

The driver side of the Uber app is geared to maximising the amount of time and the number of unsocial shifts its drivers are offered. In fact, the one-dimensional and often racist statements made on Twitter - repeating and expanding on statements made in British tabloid newspapers about Uber UK drivers being "rapists" and "terrorists" and telling them to "go back home" and worse - predictably mirrored the embarrassingly widespread ignorance uncovered by last year's Brexit referendum.

Sometimes, tech companies have found themselves blocked outright.

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But now the city council on Monday was considering a six-month study of Uber's impact on the traditional yellow cab business, where the value of medallions - licenses to operate taxis - has dropped by 90 percent in the past four years.

Although Uber initially approached being stripped of their license with what Khan described as "aggressive threats", a few days later, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi apologized saying, "On behalf of everyone at Uber globally, I apologize for the mistakes we've made".

The firm is used by an estimated 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million customers in London.

Facing the ire of both Uber drivers and customers, Khan said: "I know that Uber has become a popular service for many Londoners but it would be wrong for TfL to licence Uber if in any way this could pose a threat to Londoners safety or security". More than 800,000 people have signed a petition against the ruling. However, Uber also has taken some recent hits, including losing its license to operate in London. And the fare was cheaper than a taxi.

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Uber boss to meet London transport chief